America in the 1850s

John Brown and Harpers Ferry

How many recruits did John Brown find?

Accounts vary, and not all men who volunteered eventually took part in the great revolt, but the number was no fewer than twenty and was perhaps no more than thirty. This was a very small group for so ambitious a plan, but Brown did not appear downcast. He was accustomed to tackling great goals with slender means.

The men came from various backgrounds and towns; what they shared was the belief that a blow against slavery must be struck. They did not delude themselves as to the hazardous nature of the task before them; then again, Brown did not reveal all of his plans. Clearly, it was his intention to arm the slaves, but as some people pointed out, the slaves had no training in the use of firearms. That was why Brown paid for and had 1,500 pikes, which could be used with a minimum of training, brought to his location on the Kennedy farm.


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